UNIONDALE, N.Y. - One team is fighting for its playoff life while the other is simply fighting. The Flyers showed plenty of punch but not enough pop in last night's 6-5 overtime loss to the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum.
Sending the Flyers to their fifth straight loss, the Islanders got the game-winner on Trent Hunter's power-play goal with 30.7 seconds left in overtime. Hunter tapped in a hard shot by Mike Sillinger.
Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki had made several difficult saves in overtime.
Overcoming a three-goal deficit, the Flyers sent the game into overtime with three straight goals, including two in the third period.
"It showed the resiliency of our team," said Flyers center R.J. Umberger, who scored two goals. "It was a tough first period, and we gave them way too many opportunities and shot ourselves in the foot too many times. It's tough to battle back from that, but we did show a lot of heart, and that is a good sign."
The Flyers showed grit if not the best of form in two second-period fights. Islanders enforcer Chris Simon earned a close decision over Todd Fedoruk. The second bout was much more decisive for the Islanders, with Arron Asham landing several rights to the head of the Flyers' Darren Reid.
The Flyers seemed to perk up after the fights.
The Islanders led by 4-1 after the first period, getting a hat trick from Jason Blake. After the Flyers' Sami Kapanen and the Islanders' Simon exchanged goals, giving the Islanders a 5-2 lead, this looked like a lost cause for the Flyers.
"It's encouraging that we bounced back, but we have to start winning these games," Flyers coach John Stevens said.
The Islanders are making a playoff push, but the Flyers looked like the more spirited team in the third period.
This is the time of year when Stevens will be taking a long look at young players. Two defensemen made their debut for the Flyers: Braydon Coburn, 21, and Lasse Kukkonen, 25. Both were acquired within the last week in trades.
The Flyers cut the lead to 5-3 when a wide-open Dmitry Afanasenkov converted Alexandre Picard's pass while in front of the goal at 7 minutes, 10 seconds of the second period.
Things got more interesting at 8:12 of the third period when Umberger scored on backhander to the short side that should have been stopped by goalie Rick DiPietro.
This was the 12th consecutive start for DiPietro, and he looked as if he could use a breather.
DiPietro couldn't be blamed for the Flyers' equalizer by Simon Gagne at 9:07 of the third period. Gagne had several pokes at the puck in front of the net as the defense failed to clear him away. The goal was Gagne's team-leading 35th.
Later in the period, Niittymaki made a sensational diving save on a shot from the slot by Andy Hilbert.
With 1:04 left in overtime, the Flyers' Mike Richards was called for a hooking penalty on Marc-Andre Bergeron. It was a good penalty because Bergeron probably would have scored on a close-range shot.
The penalty led to the game-winner and another difficult learning experience for the Flyers.